The Technological Lifecycle Of A Gaming Floor
As growing pubs and clubs evolve and change, so does the technology they use on their gaming floor. As the venue matures, so do the machines, devices and backend gaming infrastructure. This often tends to coincide with an increase in gaming revenue thanks to improved efficiency and customer experience.
As a venue matures, different challenges arise at each stage of development. So, what does the technological lifecycle of the gaming floor look like? In this post, we break it down into three stages covering early, middle and mature venues and the particular challenges faced in each stage. We’ll also explore some of the common tech upgrades, including payments technology, and the benefits your gaming floor will gain from them.
EARLY STAGE VENUES
An early-stage venue will usually kick off with a simple line-of-sight system. We’re talking pen and paper or basic digital record keeping, manually checking which Electronic Gaming Machines (EGMs) are online, which are not, what’s been paid out etc. A line-of-sight system is what we’d call ‘bare bones’, it’s the minimum level required when a venue kicks off.
As with any manual work, the work becomes more cumbersome as the venue begins to grow. While a line-of-sight system could have worked well for a gaming floor with a few EGMs, as the machine numbers increase, so does the amount of work needed to stay on top of them.
At this stage, a venue’s main challenge will be the cost of staff and operations thanks to the laborious, manual process of managing the gaming floor with people (line-of-sight) rather than a specifically designed gaming system. Plus time spent processing hand pays at EGMs and the cashier desk (so many coins!).
Aside from time consuming manual gaming management, a venue at this early stage may also suffer from cash handling inaccuracies at the till or in payouts.
Early-stage venue solutions:
1. Upgrading to TITO
TITO is a simple but very capable system: Patrons insert cash into the EGM and begin to play. When the player is finished or taking a break, they press a button and collect a ticket. The ticket can either be reinserted into another EGM or redeemed for cash at the gaming cashier or a cash redemption terminal.
As an early-stage venue, you might consider implementing TITO for several reasons:
- A decrease in cash handling errors
- Improved efficiency – manual processes such as hand pays are automated freeing up gaming floor staff
- Better security – EGM cash clearances are no longer required or minimised
- Improved customer service – less time spent at the cashier desk and smooth transition between EGMs
Upgrading older machines without built-in TITO functionality is very common. Naturally, the existing EGM will require a ticket printing machine purchased from a gaming manufacturer. Next up is the installation of the printing hardware; some metalwork is necessary to attach it to the EGM. From this point, a supplier like Banktech will take over, installing an interface board into the machine to connect it with a gaming system. To complete the TITO process, a Central Control Unit or CCU will be installed.
2. Onboarding a gaming system
A line of site system can only take a venue so far. A central gaming system, however, will easily allow your pub or club to keep track of all aspects of the gaming floor and streamline administrative tasks. A system like Banktech’s Global Eye will monitor EGMs and overall gaming performance, as well as provide reports designed BY those in the industry for those IN the industry.
Implementing a gaming system as an early-stage venue has three key benefits you should know about:
- Day-to-day gaming floor management will be simpler, easier and less time consuming. Most pubs and clubs find they claw back several hours each day thanks to a gaming system.
- Compliance made easy and accurate. Reporting is simple, and a good quality system will have ready-made reports explicitly designed for regulatory requirements. Always know where you stand, with the reports to back you up.
- Understand performance. Good reporting will also help you to understand what’s working well and what’s not, enabling you to manage and improve performance on the gaming floor.
To onboard a gaming system, your venue will first need to install interface boards and CCUs on your EGMs; then comes a monthly licence fee. Check with your vendor that this monthly licence fee includes ongoing development and top-notch support.
An excellent gaming system will have a user-friendly design, that staff will quickly and intuitively pick up. Your system vendor should also provide ample and high-grade training to make onboarding as seamless as possible. You may also find with popular system’s like GlobalEye, staff already have previous experience of the interface, so very little training is necessitated.
MIDDLE STAGE VENUES
At the middle stage, venues tend to have already implemented TITO and a gaming system, helping them improve profitability with better customer service, improved efficiency and a positive impact on rostering thanks to a reduction in unnecessary staff hours.
As the venue matures more, the focus turns to ways to increase revenue on the gaming floor and further streamline reporting to boost performance.
Middle-stage venue solutions:
1. Installing a Cash Redemption Terminal (CRT)
A cash redemption terminal is a simple, easy to use, self-service machine that allows patrons to redeem their gaming tickets for cash securely and privately, without any staff involvement.
A TITO system without a CRT provides substantially greater efficiency and accuracy, but TITO really comes into its own when paired with a cash redemption terminal. Some of the benefits of a CRT include:
- Shy gamers, who would like to remain anonymous, can redeem their tickets at the CRT discreetly
- Minimised lines at the cashier desk as easy, accurate and quick payouts are automatically performed at the CRT
- Staff are no longer stuck behind a desk; instead, they are on the floor improving the gaming experience for patrons
- Turnaround time is significantly shorter, encouraging a swifter return for patrons
- Cash handling performed at the cashier station is minimised to provide the venue with operational efficiencies and improved cash handling security
The cost of a CRT is divided into hardware, delivery, installation and a monthly maintenance and support fee. Be aware that a smaller ticket price is often followed up with a steep monthly fee from some vendors! Do your due diligence before investing by adding up the total cost of ownership over a few years.
When it comes to hardware, consider different-sized models, but keep in mind that a CRT is a significant and long term investment, so plan for the future of your venue, not just the present.
2. Integrating a cloud-based monitoring system
Optimise your already strong gaming floor with a cloud-based monitoring system which also helps you stay compliant. The system will empower you with snapshot performance analytics and statistics. It can also show real-time performance status and performance of EGMs. An integrated system like Banktech’s Omnivision has the added feature of data feedback from ATMs, intelligent safes and CRTs, helping to simplify management of cash levels all across a venue or even multiple sites.
Data and reports you can expect to have access to includes comparisons, trends, occupancy levels and, of course, EGM performance. Integration with a gaming system allows you to centrally track your venue’s clearances, banking, transactions and floats.
The beauty of a cloud-based system is there is no need to be on the premises to have oversight of your gaming floor. This is especially helpful for busy managers or licensees who need to keep an eye on multiple venues.
With hundreds of thousands of dollars spread across the devices of a middle-stage venue, clear visibility empowers you to make informed decisions about cash management and efficiently handle your cash flow.
MATURE / LATE STAGE VENUES
A mature or late-stage venue as an optimised gaming floor, TITO and CRT are commonplace, as well as a cloud-based monitoring system integrated with a gaming system. With all of this in place, the late-stage venue may have security concerns thanks to large amounts of cash rolling through. All of this gaming revenue means a late-stage venue also wants to make sure machines (like CRTs, ATMs, etc.) have maximum uptime to ensure revenue remains steady.
Mature / late-stage venue solutions:
1. Introducing cash recyclers
A venue without a cash recycler will spend 1-2 hours every day handling cash – this includes issuing tills, dispensing cash out to the different machines on the gaming floor and handling the banking. Naturally, with so much cash handling comes security risks, from both within the venue (staff stealing) and without (armed hold-ups).
The solution is investing in a cash recycler. The machine handles all the counting and reconciliation of cash and paired with TITO and CRTs your venue will require very few hands touching the cash. With fewer hands and less time spent on cash management, there is a reduced risk of error and theft.
A cash recycler will also leave your staff free to spend their time on more productive and valuable tasks or enable you to optimise your roster and cut back on costs.
Just like a CRT, the cost of a cash recycler is broken into hardware, delivery, installation and a monthly maintenance and support fee. Keep all of these components in mind to work out the total cost of ownership when comparing models.
2. Vendor servicing and reliability
At this point in the venue lifecycle, it is particularly important that your venue has top-notch agreements with a high-quality device and services vendor. With a high revenue gaming floor, you need to be able to rely on your technology for maximum uptime and, when issues do inevitably occur, be confident in quick and reliable repairs and servicing.
A reliable vendor will also be across the latest innovative features, continually developing to provide you with cutting edge technology in both the hardware and software space. Think of your vendor as your partner in future-proofing your business.
Want to learn more about how Australia’s most popular and successful venues are using technology to optimise performance and maximise profits? Our free ebook Pubs and Clubs of the Future gives you real-life examples of how top pubs and clubs are staying ahead of the game.